I would call the Steelers just completed draft…eclectic. What else do you call two days that saw them trade to move up only to choose a leftfooted punter who used to be a linebacker, a guy born in Australia, another born in Jamaica, and a tight end? It marked just the third time in team history that they took a linebacker in the first round. It was the first time in 20 years that their first two picks play the same position, and it was the first time in 22 years that they drafted a punter. What’s going on here?
While most of the e-mails I’ve received have ripped the Steelers choices, let’s calm down for a second. Chris Gardocki appears to be at the end of a good career. The Steelers gave up a 6th round draft pick to get one of the best collegiate punters in history in Daniel Sepulveda who’s name I can type better than I can pronounce. Before you scream about drafting a punter, consider that he had 21 punts at Baylor for over 60 yards. He had 94 punts for over 52 yards. And he had 82 punts downed inside the 20. His average as a senior was over 46 yards per kick. If he performs at anywhere near that level for the Steelers, he will be worth the choice.
While many complain that the Steelers don’t throw to the tight end enough, remember the days of Eric Green? He was their main offensive weapon for a few years. And Heath Miller was second on the team in touchdown catches last year. This isn’t the deepest group of wide receivers in team history and if they can toss two big tight ends out there (remember Joe Walton’s offense) at the same time, it could create matchup problems. This is a new head coach and a new offensive coordinator and don’t assume they will ignore the tight end as much as they did during the Bill Cowher Era. And Matt Spaeth has something most of the other tight ends coming out of college don’t have…the ability…and desire…the block. Most modern collegiate tight ends are all about catching the football and little else.
Granted the Steelers went away from a lot of norms in this draft. That rubs some people the wrong way. But with only two head coaches the last 38 years, we get used to things being written in stone. Kevin Colbert has done a solid job and his first round picks have all been starters. This is new head coach Mike Tomlin’s first go around. What worked for Cowher won’t necessarily work for him. I’m intrigued by the variety in this draft. Give it a chance. None of us will really be able to handicap it for at least two years anyway.

The Penguins’ four-games-to-one playoff loss to the Ottawa Senators was certainly disappointing, but it by no means takes any shine off what was a great season for the Flightless Birds.

It’s time to accentuate the positives.

The Pens improved 47 points from last year, fourth best in NHL history.

Sidney Crosby established himself as the best player in the league, and with great young support players like Evgeni Malkin, Jordan Staal and Marc-Andre Fleury, the future is certainly bright for the franchise.

I think the Penguins should seriously consider re-signing Gary Roberts. The 40-year-old provided a great spark for this team and combined with Mark Recchi, the two would provide great veteran leadership for at least the next couple of years.

Michel Therrien is quickly becoming one of the NHL’s best coaches and he did a fine job of getting this team prepared to play night in and night out.

In short, the future looks bright. I’ve gotten a lot of heat from Penguins fans all season, but I fully expect to see the Stanley Cup return to Pittsburgh within the next 3-5 years.

Stand up and take a bow, Penguins, ‘ya done good! (Just work on that power play!)

You couldn’t have asked for a better effort than what the Penguins gave in their 2-1 loss to Ottawa in game four of their playoff series. All series long, head coach Michel Therrien has been pleading for his team to put together a complete, 60-minute game, and that’s exactly what they did. Unfortunately, their best wasn’t quite good enough. The Pens went a dismal 0-5 on the power play and that simply won’t get it done. Let’s be sure: there’s no shame in losing to the Ottawa Senators. It is a veteran hockey team with plenty of playoff experience. And regardless of how this series ends up, the Penguins can take pride that they’ve made Ottawa earn everything they’ve gotten. Sometimes your best isn’t good enough. That won’t be the case for the Penguins in the years to come. As for now, the Penguins need to take it one game at a time to get back in this series. As the old saying goes: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!

Pens Down But Not Out

April 16, 2007

The Penguins’ 4-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators in game three of their Eastern Conference playoff series seems to futher illustrate that while the Pens have the better skill players, the Sens have the better team.

Ottawa has a good forecheck and they’ve made it hard for the Pens’ skillful skaters to get in behind their defensemen and get shots on Senators goalie Ray Emery, who will never be confused as the second coming of Patrick Roy.

All that being said, the Penguins are in no way out of this series. They have enough talent and leadership to take three out of the next four games.

This is a team that seems to be at their best when they are desperate. How many times did we see them battle back from two, three, even four goal disadvantages during the regular season? This team will need to need to play that way for 60 minutes to avoid being sent home early.

Click here to watch Guy’s latest blog from Ottawa as the Pens prepare for Game 2 tomorrow.


Click here to watch Guy’s blog about his thoughts on the Game 1 loss and a look ahead to Game 2.

Penguins fans shouldn’t panic about their team’s six-three loss to the Ottawa Senators in game one of their playoff series. But, they should be a bit concerned. The Senators were impressive the way they dominated the entire game and never let the Penguins up for air. The young Penguins could have used a lift from their two experienced veterans Gary Roberts and Mark Recchi but it was not to be on this night. The Senators are a good hockey team and they look like they’re a little sick and tired of hearing all the negative talk about their past playoff failures. Still, don’t count the Penguins out. They learned a huge lesson about playoff itensity from the Senators and they now know they have to turn it up a notch or two in order to get back in this series. I expect a much better effort from the Pens in game two. Michel Therrien will have this team ready to play on Saturday. Ottawa may or not win, but I guarantee they’ll have to earn whatever they get.